Innovation Teams require Concentration, Courage, Will and Desire to Innovate.

To innovate is intellectual work. Not for a single person but for the entire team. Being the Innovation Executive or Innovation Practitioner your responsibility is to be aware and take action on any change in your teams concentration, courage, will and desire to Innovate.

All of us have limits for how many tasks, worries, concerns and trouble we can handle and still perform at the highest level in our job. Most people recognize overload, stress, worries and trouble as a very private matter and try to neglect the fact that it impacts their performance.

As experienced Innovation Executive/Practitioner I have had team members loosing focus and concentration. I will share a couple of cases with you, to show what I mean by saying “being aware and take action”.

When I start a new innovation project with a new team I always ask for 100% concentration in our meetings and work sessions. This means no electronic communications during our meetings. Then I mobilize their desire, courage and will to Innovate the given case. I will tell them, that if they for any reason loose the motivation or ability to perform, then it is my hope, that I will be the first to know – from themselves.

In one of my teams I had a member, who was selected for the team because of his broad knowledge of the business area. In his normal job, in the line organization, he was known as a very effective and well-liked person. After several sessions in the team I noticed he had no desire, no courage and no will to contribute. I asked him if there were reasons for his behaviour? He answered honestly: “I have during this project acknowledged that I am a very conservative person and I hate changes. During this process I see no reasons for innovation in this business area, at all!” But the Management Team of this business area was convinced and committed to pursue the project. The team member was released from the innovation project and went back to his daily work, and new member was selected and included in the team.

In another innovation team one of the members asked me: “Have you not noticed that I am recently more or less inactive? The reason is that I am in the middle of a divorce”. My answer was: “Yes, did notice your changed behaviour, and I am so happy that you share this very serious reason. You are important for the team. So please take your time and stay in the team. Join the meetings and read the Status Reports. Then, I am sure, you will come through your hard time and still be a part of the project. We need you, and we welcome your active participation when you are ready again.

To avoid the negative effect and to enhance positive effect of competition between team members is another important task. It has been a challenge for me as Innovation Executive to manage knowledable,  experienced, ambitious and competing people in the innovation teams. As long as the competition is on creating, adding value and progress to the project, then I am always happy. But when the competition is being personal and changes from adding value to the destroying other team members proposals and ideas, then the Innovation Executive must be the coach and change the behaviour in the team. My way, in this situation, is to enhance creativity and collaboration in the team by introducing a new rule saying “whatever proposal/idea is coming up in this team, we have this attitute: Hello little new proposal/idea, what can we do to make you a little bit better – before evaluation”.

Erik Keldmann

October 19, 2016
© Keldmann Innovation A/S